The life-saving opioid overdose drug, Narcan, is available at no cost from the Alexandria Health Department (4480 King St.).
Narcan can save the life of someone who is overdosing from opioids, if given in time.
To obtain the drug, the Health Department asks residents to call 703.746.4888 to make an appointment so staff can take appropriate safety precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Residents can also leave a message if there is no answer, and calls will be returned. Narcan is also available without a prescription at all pharmacies.
Opioid overdoses are at epidemic levels in the United States. Opioids are a class of highly addictive drugs used to reduce pain and include prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone as well as illegal opioids like heroin. Overdoses can occur in people who have an addiction to substances as well as those who do not, such as someone accidentally overdosing on prescription opioids after a surgery or an injury, a child ingesting opioid pills or powders from a home medicine cabinet or other storage location, or someone using street drugs unknowingly laced with opioids.
During times of individual and collective stress, like the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a potential for increased opioid use as a way to self-medicate. Opioids, used in tandem with alcohol or other “downers” (such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and sleep medications) are particularly dangerous, and Narcan can save lives while help is on the way.
The Health Department is a member of the City’s Opioid Work Group (OWG), which finalized the Opioid Work Group Strategic Three Year Plan (2020 - 2023) to eliminate opioid misuse and its harmful effects in Alexandria earlier this year.
The plan was formed through several years of extensive engagement and collaboration with community members and experts to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the local effects of the national opioid crisis. It lays out goals and objectives in five focus areas: prevention and education, treatment and recovery, supply reduction, diversion of people with addiction into treatment, and facilitating a collaborative response to opioid overdoses.
Recently, the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria (SAPCA), an OWG member, arranged for approximately 24,000 Harris Teeter pharmacy bags to be printed with information about permanent medication drop box locations in the City of Alexandria and the URL of the City’s opioid web site and prevention information. SAPCA partners with Alexandria’s Sheriff Office and Police Department--also OWG members--and other community organizations and City programs to organize and staff the community drug take back days, which collected 240 pounds of unused medications in January. An additional 180 pounds was collected through the Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray drop box, one of three permanent drop box locations in Alexandria, where residents can dispose of unused or unwanted medications year-round. Currently, the drop box located at Neighborhood Pharmacy is the only location open to the public.
For more information about opioids and the City’s response as well as resources and treatment available to residents, visit alexandriava.gov/Opioids.